Hans Tietze, Prof. Dr.

1.3.1880 – 11.4.1954
born in Prague, Czech Republic died in New York, United States


Ehrung Titel Datierung Faculty
Monument for Art Historians 2008/09 Faculty of Philosophy

Tietze, the son of a lawyer, attended the Schottengymnasium secondary school in Vienna, where he graduated in 1898. He then studied art history under Franz Wickhoff and Alois Riegl, who are considered the founders of the Viennese art history tradition. He also attended lectures on archeology and history. In 1903 he obtained his doctorate and began working as an assistant at the University of Vienna. He married Erica Conrad in 1905, who in that same year became the first woman to obtain a doctorate in art history and subsequently was involved with much of her husband’s art historical research. Tietze entered the Central Commission for Monuments of Art and History as a scientific official and in 1908 habilitated for medieval and modern art history at the University of Vienna. During his time at the Central Commission he especially gained renown through his work on the “Österreichische Kunsttopographie”, which was published in twelve volumes between 1907 and 1931. The second volume was Tietze’s “Die Denkmale der Stadt Wien (Bezirke 11-21)”. From 1914 until 1918 he was in the military service and was deployed as an art protection officer in the occupied areas of Italy toward the end of the war. After a further year at the monuments office, he advanced to speaker for museum issues at the ministry of education in 1919. In that same year the president conferred the title of associate professor on him. He was co-founder of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der modernen Kunst in Wien (Society for the Promotion of Modern Art in Vienna) in 1920, showing his multifaceted commitment to contemporary art. In 1919 he had joined the journal “Die bildenden Künste” as an editor.

During his work at the ministry he not least addressed the protection of art treasures against the demands of the victorious powers of the First World War. His most important achievement, however, is considered to be the “Tietzsche Musealreform”, a museum reform initiated by him. This reform mandated, among other things, the integration of the Habsburg art collections into the existing museums, and led to the merging of the print room of the court library with that of the Albertina, as well as to the founding of the Baroque Museum, the Gallery of the 19th Century and the Modern Gallery in the three Belvedere castles. In 1923 he became assistant head of the ministry, but resigned from this position two years later to focus on his studies, publications and teaching assignments.

At the time of the “Anschluss”, Tietze was in Italy and decided not to return to Austria. He was considered a “Jew” according to the “Nuremberg Race Laws”, even though he had been baptized as a Protestant in 1883. In 1930 he had seceded from the church and had no religious affiliation, only to return to the Protestant religion four years later.  Apart from Tietze’s Jewish descent, probably also political “concerns” would have prevented any further employment or teaching assignments - the ministry of education revoked his teaching license on April 22nd, 1938. His possessions in Vienna were confiscated and looted.

Tietze managed to get to New York with his wife and worked as a visiting professor at the Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, in 1938/39. No assignments at universities longer than this were to come about, however. After the end of the war the philosophical faculty of the University of Vienna contacted him and offered him the chair vacated by Hans Sedlmayr, but Tietze, who had become an American citizen in 1944, declined due to reasons of age and health. Thus, he worked as a freelance art historian from 1939 until 1954, joined the library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1943, and took up a visiting professorship at Columbia University in 1954, shortly before his death.

Tietze focused on Venetian art, in particular on drawings by Titian and Dürer, as well as other German artists from the 15th and 16th centuries. He was also interested in methodological questions of art history, modern art as well as museum politics and monument preservation.

Among his most famous works are “Österreichische Kunsttopographie” (1907-1920, new edition in 1931), “Die Methode der Kunstgeschichte” (1913), “Albrecht Altdorfer” (1922), “Kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke Albrecht Dürers” (two volumes, 1928), “Wien. Kultur, Kunst Geschichte” (1931), “Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika” (1935), “Tintoretto: Gemälde und Zeichnungen” (1948) and “Dürer als Zeichner und Aquarellist” (1951). His book “Geschichte und Beschreibung des Stephansdomes in Wien” (1931) became an indispensable tool for the reconstruction of this Viennese landmark after the end of the war.

He is the namesake of the Tietzestraße in Vienna’s 22nd district.

> Kunstgeschichte gesichtet

Archiv der Universität Wien, Rektoratsakten GZ 677-1937/38.

Herbert Posch

Zuletzt aktualisiert am 04/04/22